DOD recommends merging some IT operations as part of BRAC

'Arrangements pretty much designed for the Cold War must give way ... to evolving 21st century chal- lenges.'

'Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Olivier Douliery

The Defense Department is trying to use its latest round of recommended base closures and realignments to consolidate operations and support Defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's transformation goals.

DOD earlier this month released recommendations to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and for the first time included suggestions to consolidate around functional areas including technology, intelligence, education and training.

Among the recommendations to close 33 bases and realign 29 others, Defense is planning to reduce to seven from 18 the number of Air Force and Naval centers that provide command, control, communications and computers, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

In all, DOD would lose more than 29,000 civilian and military positions, and Rumsfeld said DOD expects to save about $48.8 billion over 20 years. The four previous BRAC rounds were in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995.

Along with the functional areas, DOD proposed closing the Army base in Fort Monmouth, N.J., which houses a number of technical programs including the Joint Network Management System Program Office, the Communications Electronics Life Cycle Management Command, and the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center. Additionally, DOD would consolidate 21 Defense Finance and Accounting Service facilities to three large centers and realign two others.

BRAC timetable

A BRAC commission of eight members, led by former Veterans Affairs Department secretary Anthony J. Principi, will review the suggestions and make its own recommendations to President Bush by Sept. 8. Bush then will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety. If accepted, Congress will have 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding for DOD.

The past three commissions have changed about 15 percent of DOD's suggestions.

'The Department of Defense again is in need of change and adjustment,' Rumsfeld said. 'Current arrangements pretty much designed for the Cold War must give way to the new demands of war against extremists and other evolving 21st century challenges.'

The challenges include reorganizing how all of DOD performs similar functions. Defense officials looked at seven cross-service areas and made recommendations to improve coordination and collaboration between and among the services.

'These Joint Cross-Service Groups were key,' said Michael Wynne, Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. 'They each were chaired by a senior executive or flag officer, with representation from each of the military services, from the Joint Staff and from the relevant Defense agencies involved.'

Consolidating the cross-service areas would give DOD a common battlespace awareness capability with a joint program management office, as well as research, development and acquisition, and test and evaluation domain centers for land, maritime, air and space, the report said.

Ken Beeks, vice president for policy of the Business Executives for National Security, said that the consolidations make sense from a business perspective.

'If the point was to focus on centers of excellence in particular research or warfare areas, that is a good thing,' said Beeks, whose organization is made up of nonpartisan business leaders who want to bring business best practices to DOD and national security forces. 'I can't say to what extent they are addressing mission overlap or over capacity in terms of infrastructure, but that would be the idea behind these moves.'

The maritime C4ISR plan would reduce facilities to five from 12. The realigned bases include the Washington Navy Yard, the Naval Weapons station in Charleston, S.C., the Ventura County, Calif., naval base and the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

Defense officials estimate it would cut the cycle time for fielding systems to warfighters, and that DOD would save $455.1 million over 20 years.

The air and space C4ISR facilities would drop to two from six. These include moving air and space systems research and development and acquisition to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. It also would mean moving the air and space sensors, electronics warfare and electronics and information systems test and evaluation centers to Edwards Air Force Base in California from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Potential gains

'Through this consolidation, the department will increase efficiency of research, development, acquisition, and test and evaluation operations resulting in a multifunctional center of excellence in the rapidly changing technology area of C4ISR,' the report said.

Congress is paying close attention to these recommendations'with many lawmakers vowing to keep bases open at any cost.

Fort Monmouth is one such base. Sen. John Corzine (D-N.J.) said closing it would hamper the fight against terrorism because of the base personnel's expertise in technology, systems development, engineering and science.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) called the recommendation to close Fort Monmouth 'a serious mistake.'

'This base is vital to our national security, and I am going to make sure the BRAC Commission understands this,' he said.

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